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New to Virtualisation - Need help

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In the last few months I have invested heavily in reasonably expensive software to help run my business.

I am a small business and am looking at in the next few weeks running more servers than I have employees, which is just crazy.

So I thought Virutualisation might be the ticket, so I have ordered a pretty beefy Intel server:

2 x quad core xeons

4 x 15.4K 147GB cheetah hard disks

Intel S5000VSAS motherboard

8GB FBRAM

My intention is to run 3 virtual servers on it and they are the following:

Server 1 - 32 bit Windows 2003 R2 Small business server with Exchange Service pack 2 and Quotewerks, GFI utilities etc (main file & print server)

Server 2 - 64 bit Windows 2003 std server with Kaseya MSP server and nothing else

Server 3 - 32 bit Windows 2003 std server with Connectwise running and nothing else.

I am just trying to work out what would be the best VMware product to do this with, and Im finding it hard to get my head around.

I require ESX 3.0 and above server for Connectwise to be supported.

What is my cheapest option ?

VMware foundation looks like it has the best value for money for what I need, can someone give me some hints on wether I am right about this.

Standard and enterprise look a bit out of my price range and probably have features I will never use.

What about ESX server 3i, would that allow me to effectively do the tasks above?

Also am I correct in my conclusion that if I want to convert a physical server to a virtual machine that I need to spend 4K on the VMotion addon?

If thats the case I would just use swing migration tools to achieve the same end.

If I have to spend a few extra dollars for features that will save me time and effort then I dont mind, any other advice would be most welcome:)

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Champion
Champion

Hello,

Your requirement for ESX 3.x is a given, you should go with a VI3 solution and the foundation product is your most cost effective route.

VM Motion is not required for P2V physical machine conversion.

The VMware Converter is a free product.

3i will only work on certain hardware which is not what you have and I don't think what you have is on the ESX supported hardware list.

You may want to try the ESX Evaluation first before committing to the licensed product.

There are frequent product promotions so you should call and do the old what can you do for me now pitch.

http://blog.laspina.ca/ vExpert 2009

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Champion
Champion

Hello,

Your requirement for ESX 3.x is a given, you should go with a VI3 solution and the foundation product is your most cost effective route.

VM Motion is not required for P2V physical machine conversion.

The VMware Converter is a free product.

3i will only work on certain hardware which is not what you have and I don't think what you have is on the ESX supported hardware list.

You may want to try the ESX Evaluation first before committing to the licensed product.

There are frequent product promotions so you should call and do the old what can you do for me now pitch.

http://blog.laspina.ca/ vExpert 2009

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Thanks for the response, you have me heading in the right direction.

I will take your advice and give the demo a go, thanks again.

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A few things to note

1) I'm not sure the S5000VSAS is supported - see the list here for supported Intel motherboards - http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi35_systems_guide.pdf.

2) Likewise, see this PDF for support storage controllers and network cards. You don't want to stray from this list for your first server. There are models of storage controllers and NICs that will work, but for the fewest headaches, stick with the supported list - http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vi35_io_guide.pdf.

3) To run 64 bit VMs, you'll need to enable Intel VT in the BIOS of the server you get. Generally it is disabled by default. You can enable it before or after your install ESX.

4) Foundation will give you the features you need today and you can always upgrade your licenses down the road if you have that need.

5) What are you planning to do for backup of your VMs. You can attach a tape drive to the ESX host and use it in a VM, but it has to be an adaptec storage controller and there are other restrictions. There are numerous other options available both for freeware and commerial backup software designed for backing up ESX VMs.

Contributor
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No worries, I was to spend last night building the server, but quickly found that I had the wrong motherboard for the chassis S5000VSAS will not work with a SC5400lx chassis.

So I double checked all the info you posted here for me. Trying to find out what the Intel onboard Raid chip actually is when trying to confirm it on the list was pretty difficult. Finally figured out it was an LSI megaraid controller and that it was compatible.

I then checked the motherboard I did need which was a S5000PSL and ordered that along with an external RAID card rather than onboard, I went for the sata version of the board (cheaper) and ordered a Adaptec RAID 31205 which specifically states that it is compatible with VMware ESX server. Plus it will probably give me better performance on the SAS drives than the onboard solution anyway (I would hope so for the price)

The NICs on the S5000PSL are the same as the ones on the S5000PAL which is compatible with ESX server so I should be right in that department.

As far as backups are concerned, I have always used Acronis products in the past and I am aware they have recently released a backup solution for Virtual machines, so I will look into that. Generally I will couple this with 5x160GB external notebook drives and keep 4 offsite and bring 1 back each day for backups, although I might need bigger drives than that now.

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Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I think with regards to backups that you probably want to look at either vRanger or esXpress products. For the most part, most tape backup software makers are integrating with VCB, which you would have to license, and thus pay for, from VMWare. While I love VCB, and the integration with the new Arcserve, your needs are significantly less demanding than in our shop. These allow for bare metal backups, i.e. backups for which you would not have to restore the entire OS, and applications first, before restoring the backup on top of them. This is one of the niceties of a virtual environment, the ease of backups. Check out esXpress, their base version, although restricted in throughput, is free. This, in conjunction with whatever other backup software you wish to use should do nicely.

So far as the Acronis solution, I believe they are like any other backup provider, they mostly integrate with VCB (VMWare's Virtual Consolidated Backup), but check to make sure. You can use whatever backup solution, and backup agents, just like with physical machines. However, this doesn't allow for a bare metal restore. If this doesn't matter to you, then away you go. Otherwise, again, check out the free offering from esXpress. This allows you to back up the actual files that constitute each Virtual Machine, not just back up files that exist on those servers. Keep in mind that databases require a little more finese, and especially your SBS server with Exchange. You probably will want a backup product that integrates with agents for SBS/Exchange.

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Contributor
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I see the backups might need a bit more investigating. I have always had a pathalogical hatred of tape drives, just bad experiences with them in the past, which is why I stick with hard drives, they are cheap enough for an effective backup solution these days.

Will look into the products you mentioned and will also test them out.

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Hot Shot
Hot Shot

The device you choose to store the backups on is really irrelevant. Choose whatever has right capacity and you will be fine. What we do is a combination of backups with agents, Arcserve in our case, and VCB full backups. The VCB full backups are done monthly, and basically allow us to restore the entire VM in a very short period of time. This takes care of everything but database/exchange/active directory issues. We do more freqent, a-la daily/weekly backups of files/databases/exchange/etc... using Arcserve agents. This allows us to restore the monthly full backup if the system goes completely down, and restore exchange, or databases to their most recent backup state on top of that backup. In your instance it should be fairly inexpensive to set something up like this, and you can do it to tape or removeable drive, or whatever.

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